Dear Amy: My grandmother recently died.
For me, she was like my third parent while growing up, because I spent so much time at her home.
From what I understand, there is no will. However, there are a couple of items from her home that I would like to have for sentimental reasons. (Specifically, a clock, and ashes from her dogs that I grew up with).
I don't know the most appropriate way to ask either of her sons about the items. A big roadblock is that I'm not actually blood related to my grandma or her children (we are related through her 'later in life' marriage to my deceased grandpa).
She and I loved each other, but she did tell me there was some animosity/jealousy with her blood relatives because of how close we were.
I don't want to offend anyone, but I would really like these items before they are possibly sold or just thrown out.
What can I do?
– Missing my Grandma
Dear Missing: I appreciate that you have pointed out the intense and loving connection that can develop between step-relatives. It is a vital connection, and I’m very sorry for this loss.
However, there is a whiff of entitlement in your query, and this is something you must shed if you are going to ask for material goods that belonged to your grandmother.
Start by acknowledging the loss her sons have experienced and thank them for sharing their mother with you.
Say, “I hope this isn’t too presumptuous, but I’m wondering if you would be willing to pass along something that belonged to her, so I have a tangible reminder of her.” Mention the items you’re interested in receiving.
There is some likelihood that they will not respond at all to your request, or that they will respond negatively.
You should prepare yourself for that and understand that you may have to move forward without possessing the clock or the ashes.
Dear Amy: My brother married “Martha,” a woman 15 years older than he.
She has never made any attempt to be a part of our family.
In fact, she said her goal was to alienate him from us because he was a Mama's boy.
Over the years we have had some very public meltdowns.
She has a habit of posting everything on Facebook. When that happens, my mother and I feel the need to retaliate.
Now they have newborn babies and will not let us be a part of their lives.
I have apologized to her for the things I've said and done in the past, but she took it as a chance to make a fight about it.
I honestly believe she is a narcissist.
Is there any way to repair this relationship?
My brother is nonconfrontational and will let her verbally abuse our mother.
His idea of “making peace” is to cut off all contact with us as a way to punish us, because we won't just take her abuse.
He implied that she is mentally ill, and said we just need to let her say what she wants and leave it alone.
I'm not built that way. My personality is to defend my family.
Dear Defensive: People like “Martha” traffic in drama, which is fueled by toxic distortions, and then will “punish” you in order to keep the game going.
For instance, she might refuse to let you see the children, and then accuse you of “not caring about the kids.”
The only way to win at this game is to refuse to play.
Neutrality, politeness, unflappability – these qualities are kryptonite to Martha, because she needs a hard target. Any time you retaliate, you are giving her a gift, letting her be both the center of the action and the aggrieved party.
Detach completely from her on social media and don’t respond to any postings, other than to say, “that’s simply not true.”
The response to verbal abuse should be to say, “I don’t like the way you’re speaking to me, and so it’s time to leave,” and physically leave – or ask her politely to leave.
Focus on your brother – not on his wife. Understand that as long as he is with her, he and the children are vulnerable.
Dear Amy: Responding further to veterans who often get “thanked for their service,” when someone thanks me for serving in the United States Air Force, I thank them for paying their taxes.
– Proud of the USAF
Dear Proud: Great response.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.